Wednesday, April 28, 2010


April 16-17

I was sweating trying to run from my school, home, and then to the train station where the bus stop to the airport was.  I wasn't able to find the bus stop. I looked for 40 minutes and finally, I found it in the easiest location, right smack in front of Santa Justa Tren Estación.  At 12:15pm I loaded on to the over crowded stuffy bus.  I watched a girl tear up as she was telling her Spanish boyfriend goodbye.

In the airport I waited in the wrong line, like always.  After I asked the counter receptionist, I realized i to stand in the line with 50 people.  I only had 35 minutes before my plane was to take off and they closed the gate 30 minutes before.  An American guy asked the lady the same question receiving the same answer.  He stood behind me in the new l ine only 3 seconds before we started talking. The receptionist told us to cut in front of everyone- and no one said a word as we slipped to the front of the line.  Our flight was delayed and we ended up sitting next to each other on the plane.  The American, Ricky, sat on my right and the girl crying for her boy earlier sat on my left.  Its funny, I remember being so excited that I found a cheaper-than-dirt flight to Italy, but I realized the price measured fairly to the accommodation and service.  We walked out to the plane, taking around 10 minutes, then cramming into a seat with barely any leg room. Keep in mind, I'm pretty short. Randy, 6'9", would have come out of that flight with no knee caps...

Ricky and me
The flight lasted two and a half hours and with the delayed take off, I arrived at the airport in Milan at 4:30.  The race begins.  Giulio's instructions were to take the bus to the center of Milan, and take a metro, two different lines, outside of Milan for him to pick me up.  I didn't have a phone, so he said that he got off work at 5:30, but he would wait until 6:30 for me to call him from a public phone and be in the meeting place.  The bus ride from the airport to the Centro took 50 minutes- 5:45pm by the time I found a bus and got to the center.  He said it only took 15 minutes to the meeting spot, but I was still nervous. I felt as though I was involved in a drug deal!

Ihopped on the green line in the metro, but I realized I was going the wrong direction.  By the time I got off found out how to get on the other side of the tracks and got back to the centro, I had waisted so much time, and 15 minutes had ticked by!  6 minutes later I found the stop to switch and hop on the red line.  I was literally racing the clock hoping that this guy, whom I've never met, would wait for me. With 20 minutes before 6:30, I was worried I wasn't going to be able to find a public phone; therefore, I asked a younger man standing next to me to borrow his iphone. He dialed the number..the wrong one. He redialed then handed me the phone. Giulio answered and he said he'd meet me in 10 minutes ouside the metro station.  The second I handed the phone back to the guy, the subway stopped and he was already half way out the door before I could say "gratzie a mile." It was perfect timing.

I only waited a few minutes before a man in a suit and tie rounded the corner and asked if I was Elise.  He took me in his car out to his house which is in Rho, a small town right outside of Milan.  He taught me how to make Tiramisu. He also taught me the meaning behind it. The name is Italian, and it actually means "pull me up," which, is fitting because it is made out of coffee, sugar, and more sugar. He told me that the biscuits or cookies, as we would say, were made to soak up coffee and the special biscuits that we used would be extinct, or wouldn't be made anymore, but those still making this tasty dessert, keep the business alive. Afterwards, he showed me how to make Italian homemade pizza. I was loving every second of it!
Giulio and his pizza

April 17th

This is an interesting day.  Giulio woke me up at 8:40 am and by 9 he was driving me to the Centro Tren Estación.  It only took around 45 minutes, I decided to walk around and see some of Milan while I wait for Natalie to arrive.  Her flight was supposed to get in at 11:30 am and it takes an hour for the bus ride so I told her at 1:15 pm I'd meet her at the big staircase right inside the train station.

When I started walking around I saw this man dressed in army pants, wearing a red thick jacket with an army vest to complete his puffy chest look.  Steel-toed boots and a Jewish looking crocheted hat topped off his homeless-ragged outfit. I asked him if he knew where the Duomo was and he asked if I'd like to see a church with him.  I agreed without any way out, he took me to the church.  It was beautiful, but nothing different from what I've seen.  Afterwards, he told me that it wasn't safe to be alone and he would show me around the Duomo and go to a museum before I had to meet my friend.  We took the metro out to the Duomo and instead of going in front, he led me to the side- the exit.  I told him that I didn't think it was the entrance, but he ignored me and kept walking.  The side doors were pouring out tourists of all nationalities.  I don't know how but the guards let us by and we made our way in, upstream.

Once we were out, he started walking to the Museo del Risorgimento.  It was the museum full of Italy's history.  They had basically Napoleon's belongings, his clothes, swords, hemets, etc..  Honestly, the whole time I moving as fast as i could through there.  This man, Brazzini Enzo, in his sixties, smelled like he had bathed in cigarette smoke.  The stench was coming out of his pores and I felt this starting to take over my own scent.  I didn't feel safe anyhow with him and I loathed walking by him especially when he lit his next cigarette from the butt of the one he was currently smoking. It was actually exhausting talking in dumb English for someone to understand you.  I told him I had to meet Natalie at 12, so we started heading back to the metro.

I bought a metro pass and he had a pass that was for a 24 hour period, but apparently his ticket had expired.  He wasn't able to get through.  He told me to wait while he went to get a new one, but I took the perfect opportunity to lose him.  I told him "nice to meet you! Gratzie! Have a good day!" He couldn't object - there was nothing he could do. He just told me in broken English to "take zee metro on zee right." "Ciao" and I was free!

The afternoon was a drag.  I waited outside the train station by the bus stop for Natalie for 3 hours.  Then I finally gave up and went to an internet cafe.  She had sent me a message at 9 that morning telling me that the ash cloud from the volcano eruption from Iceland cancelled all flights for the entire day.  I had waited for nothing!!!!

I decided to call Giulio, but he was busy so he told me to wait until 6:30 and to call him then.  It was 3:30 pm at the time.  I hadn't eaten lunch so I decided to go to McDonalds.  I bought a cheeseburger for a euro! I know how to travel cheaply.. I sat there for an hour writing and looking at my map.  These two ladies had been sitting next to me and when they finished their meal, one of them came up to me.  She was a Jehovah's witness and she started witnessing to me.  She told me about her beliefs, that the trinity is false, etc.. and I argued with her for about 20 minutes, but in the end I told her I would take her stupid false pamphlet so she would leave me alone.

I wondered around the train station for 2 hours watching people and taking pictures.  At 6:30, I called Giulio back and he told me to meet him at Famagosto metro station at 9:15.. another 3 hours.

I went down to the metro to check exactly how to get there, and when I was looking at the metro map I met Serkan Avci.  His flight had been cancelled because of the ash cloud and he had nothing to do so we decided to go have a good conversation and pass the time.

He was also in couch surfing in Instanbol, Turkey.  He bought me this weird Thai drink, it was so sweet I could only take 3 or 4 sips!  It was made with Basil seeds! He was a nice guy looking for company, but I just didn't like the feel of the situation.  After two and a half hours, I took the metro and met up with Giulio.  He brought his friend Oana from Romania and we went to this pizzeria where 20 of his friends were waiting for us.  We all ate a pizza to ourselves, the size of a large Pizza Hut pizza, but the crust was extremely thin, so it wasn't as much as it appeared to be.  Mine had tuna, spicy salami, corn, mozzarella, and tomato sauce... I think thats all!  It was 9 euros, but Giulio paid for me.  I had a blast talking with all of the Italians.  We didn't finish eating until midnight!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Away to Italia and Swisa

Okay this is the first time where I'm starting to get nervous. I haven't been until today, but it just hit me. I won't really be traveling alone because I'll be Natalie and then I'll meet up with Logan, Nadia, and Julianna in Switzerland so it won't be that bad, but still.  Ill be fine just say a prayer for me daily April 16-26th.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I don't have any pictures to show, because this Saturday was for pure relaxation.

After our big Spanish test on Friday morning, it was nice to get away to a warm beach on Saturday.  We met up at Plaza de Armas, the bus station close to the river, at 9:00.  We were thinking that the bus would leave sometime in that next hour, but we were wrong. Apparently on weekends, the buses run less than on the weekdays.... weird. We had to wait 2 hours and 3 different buses came to pick up the herd of students, international and Spanish, to Matalascaña. The bus ride was only an hour long, and every seat was occupied. Matalascaña is a small town and the bus stop drops us off close enough to the beach that we simply walk down the sidewalk and BAM! There it is.

6 of us girls plus the couple, Courtney and Ricky, found a great spot on the edge of the crowded beach. We laid there for hours just listening to music, reading, and talking. Then Nadia, Hayley, Julie, and I got brave enough to get in the ocean. At first, I couldn't even stand it on my feet, but once I caught my breath and after Nadia made me go under I was fine. The waves got big just as we got in and riding those waves were a blast!

We laid out a little longer and then made our way back to the bus stop.  An hour later we were back in Seville!

My kind of a Saturday. Completely chill with no obligations and many laughs.

I just made Ranch and I'm pretty pumped about it... just sayin' (:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sift Through the Travel.

Sip brown addictive grains
melting into smooth milky comfort
release any burden ever thought of
and rejoice louder than roaring trains.

Take tightly the offering
to boldly receive a ticket to
the blue shades to be seen differently
through laughter and suffering.

Whether it is bicycle, bus, train, or plane
the companion is remembered 
not the food or the hotel room.
In the countries those will remain.

A pack cannot fit what money cannot buy,
but the ink remembers how the garden smelled,
how the waiter spoke beyond comprehension,
and how all those bicycles passed us by.

Vines lushly curl around desires
to return defeating reasons of this world
and turning those grains, bitter and strong,
into a comforting taste that one acquires.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

March 31 and April Fools day in Tarifa.

March 31, 2010
We woke up around 9 and walked around a little to find a café for café con leche and breakfast. Around 11 we walked for an hour along the beach. The tide was so long. I describe it in this way because of the 200 to 300 yards of beach and shoreline was that massive. The tide came at least 100 yards and rolled back into the mar, ocean. It packed the sand with every swishing of the waves so walking on the sand was easy. We walked clear out to the very tip of Tarifa, which is almost a like a tear drop shap connected at the tip to the rest of the land. We weren’t able to actually stand on the very edge of the coast closest to Africa because it was part of the government’s private property, and it was closed off.  Nonetheless it was incredible to see Africa’s silhouette across the crisp blue Mediterranean. The mountains in the distance tempted me even more to jump on a ferry and cross the border. We had decided earlier not to go to Morocco because of the corrupt government and with our small duo, clearly American, both with blonde hair, blue eyes, light skin, and a touristy camera, our entire aroma is a dangerous target, but knowing me, I would have risked the chance! I'm a happy camper to see my Jesus early! I can’t wait to go next March with Dad though. Its going to be such a blessing. I’m so excited for that trip! 

We started walking back in the direction we'd came from again along the coast.. we watched a couple surfers, kite-surfers, people jogging- several with dogs, and many just enjoying the calm atmosphere of Tarifa's morning. The breeze was a bit chilly, but Tarifa is known to be the capital of wind surfers because of the excess quantity of wind passing through the Straight of Gibraltar. The windier the better for those practicing this challenging sport. Their kites are not just attached to a surf board, how I thought of wind surfing; rather, they are large kites that they hold on to letting the kites soar 100 feet in the air, and their board looks like a snow board with straps for their feet. They control the kite until they are ready and they make their way into the ocean and let the kite pull them through the waves. The immense strength and control the surfers have to guide them makes it look like a joy ride, but God knows that it is pure skill.

Honestly, the rest of the day is kind of a blur. We ate lunch and had the best mint green tea of my life! We tried to siesta afterwards on the beach, but 20 minutes laying down on that sand with the wind blowing, our bodies disappeared into the beach. We walked a little and took a nap back in our hotel room after we cleaned up from the dust-bowl-afternoon.  We slept a little longer than we thought and headed out around 7:30 to eat dinner. We caught a few processionals of Semana Santa and after walking around for an hour and a half we found a restaurant. We ate. He went to watch the last half of the soccer game. I went back and went to bed. 

The next day we left at 8:30am. The end. The beach was nice, but way too windy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

3.30 Gibraltar's family & monkeys

Rock of Gibraltar- North Side

Loved the British signs.

8:30 wasn't a bad wake up call to catch a bus at 11 for Gibraltar from Algeciras.  30 minutes later we were walking across a landing strip for their military towards an enormous mountain made up of white, rock, brush, and caves.  We had to pass through passport control.  The "secure check" was us walking by the guards with the ID page of our passports open. They didn't even look at them.  With a confirmed head nod of the guards, we were through. Walking through the town, the abrupt culture change from the Spanish lifestyle to the British signs, buildings, and language was apparent. They were speaking British English and all the signs weren't in Spanish for once. I was having a hard time going into stores asking for things in English. I kept forgetting and asking them in Castellano, which they understood.   There was a few instances where I would talk in Spanish and the response would be “huh?” and I would have to repeat myself in English. The UK’s flag was flying all over the place along with Gibraltar’s flag with its crest and the European Union’s flag was the third to fly.  It was so unusual to see this town. So incredible to see the diversity. Not only do you see Spanish people speaking proper English, but there were several immigrants from Morocco speaking Arabic, and several still speaking Spanish. Of course there were some tourists speaking German, but the people were not the entirety of this diverse town. To see the port in the ocean and not even a 100 yards beside the water to see a massive mountain is ideal for someone who loves the beach and the mountains. So amazing how God could make a piece of land with such breathtaking structure. 

            Looking for a place to have our daily coffee, we spotted a sign above our heads that said The Methodist Church of Gibraltar and another sign above it saying The Wesley House. This brought me back to Josh's family and all the people at the Wesley Foundation at Tech. My friends. Just to have a piece of home I made my way inside. We went up the stairs following this Spanish looking woman. I said hello and she asked if I was going to take a cup of tea or lunch in the cáfe. She spoke perfect English. She was a sweetheart. Her name was Peely, if thats how you spell it! She was Spanish herself, but her husband was from England. He is a pastor in Gibraltar and his recent project is launching another church on down the East coast of Spain not too far from Gibraltar. I told her all about the Hurst family. It was nice to be so welcomed. I'm not surprised though. We are family in the body and I felt so comfortable with them. At this point my sunburn had hits its peek rosy color and it didn't seem to phase them at all. I told them that I was embarrassed, but they told me not to worry and just to put some creme on it when I explore the Rock. 

Me and Peely

you can really see the burn on my right arm.
there is a distinct line!

I ordered their special, pea soup that had potatoes, carrots, and German sausage bits in it.  Greg ordered their other special, English breakfast with German whole-link sausages, mashed potatoes and gravy with a side of vegetables.  We both had a cup of coffee (American size!) with this hot apple pie/cake with vanilla bean icecream. Greg also got hot lemon tea with his dessert. His was definitely a flavor from home. The entire meal was beyond delicious. We were asked to sign their guest book and also a petition for one of their projects helping the orphans in Morocco. Their sanctuary was a simple meeting place with chairs and a place for the band and a section on the side closed off with curtains for a prayer room. They were so kind to show us around and they also let us leave our bags there for the day so that we could take the cable car up Gibraltar's Rock and hike down it looking at everything. 

I talked Greg into buying tickets taking the cable car up. I did not want to hike up that hour long windy hike so the compromise was to hike down it. We paid 16.50 euros total because we wanted to get into St Michael's Cave and the other historical landmarks that we probably would have had to pay extra anyway to get in to. The cable ride was maybe 3 minutes long. Completely worth it! With our package deal we got a head set telling us the history. I really appreciate history when its not shoved down my throat and I'm not asked to spit it all back up on an exam. 

Gibraltar Ape

We started out on the trail and the very first thing I saw, besides the incredible view of the port and the town, were two monkeys just chilling on this concrete ledge. People were walking by one after the other taking pictures getting extremely close and they were just chilling. As long as you don't tamper with them and you don't touch them they could care less and are completely harmless.  Greg didn't see one and walked right up to it to look over the ledge. He was less than a foot away from it and when he did notice I think he jumped like  2 feet. hahah they are kind of intimidating to be really close to. The ape didn't do anything except look at him. There was an instance where I was trying to take a close up of this one monkey and it was on a fence post and it looked like it was running to attack me but it was running past me to leap on to another fence and I screamed bloody murder turned to run and ran into another lady. haha. I quickly calmed down, but that was a weakness of Elise Peak right there!

We did see a guy that had just been bitten by a monkey.
There is a reason for these signs!

We walked all the way to the south end and looked out over the Straight of Gibraltar to see Africa's silhouette in the distance.  We also got to see this canon that was enormous. There is only one other canon that size in the world! The canon had to be operated by 35 men and the blast was so tremendous that the townspeople were told to open their windows to avoid them from shattering.  

Monkeys are literally everywhere! I loved them! Also, seagulls were a huge part of the Rock. They swarm the grassy areas looking for food. They make a horrible caw but they are so beautiful.

Kind of dark- St. Michael's Cave

My sunburn made this hike interesting. Because we were on a mountain and on the coast of the Straight it was really windy. The breeze was cold but it was sunny enough that hiking made me hot and sweaty. I wanted to take off my jacket but I didn't want to burn more and I was cold because of the wind but still had a burning sensation inside my humid rain jacket. The weirdest feeling ever. We hiked down to St. Michael's Cave. It was incredible and so big. I loved seeing how deep it was. But it doesn't hold a candle to Carl's Bad! GO DEIDRA! The legend has it that this cave is actually a secret passage way to Africa and that is how the apes came to be in Gibraltar, but no ones actually knows. There weren't any bats but there were several barred off sections that I could tell I could probably have climbed quite a ways in to. (Its probably good that I wasn't allowed to explore because I definitely wanted to!)  They had also built a small stage which was really neat. They were playing soft music through a system and it was a cool experience to hear how it reverberated off the walls. 

The Moorish Castle of Gibraltar

To get down the Rock, the fastest way was to climb down these steep narrow stone stairs. After walking down 4 long flights of them, my legs gave out and if it wasn't for the hand rail and my speed-lightning reactions I would have ate it, but thankfully I caught myself. We had to walk clear to the north end because the stairs stopped which led us to The Moorish Castle of Gibraltar. It was interesting to see how much they restored and preserved it. First built in 711 before it was rebuilt after much destruction.  

Finally, we made it downtown.  We found a hole in the wall café in an alley way off the main road. We both had a café con leche or I guess a cup of coffee with milk in a British accent.  And we ate a coffee cake to go along with it. We enjoyed a good 45 minutes of writing postcards and reading before we headed back to the Methodist Church.

We got our bags and headed back through passport control to the bus station. It was easy to catch a bus all the way to Tarifa and it was super cheap, only 3:85 euros. I would say the day was an absolute success. Me encanta Gibraltar. 

March 29th RRRRRRonda


After our second night in Málaga we took an early bus out to Ronda. First I have to share our embarrassing story for those who care for a sole chuckle. We set the alarm for 6:45am because the bus to Ronda left at 8:00am and the next one didn't leave until 10am. Wanted to make the most of the day so we decided the night before that we were going to leave early.

6:45am's jingle came on Greg's phone and of course he turned it off. We slept in for 45 minutes later.  When we finally pried our eyes open Greg asked me, "what time is it?"

"7:30" I said closing my eyes again.

"If we get up and leave right now we can make it just in time," Greg proposed.

Not even 10 minutes later we had shoved every belonging into our backpacks, brushed our teeth, stripped our beds of the sheets we had to return and were scrambling downstairs. We grabbed a couple of muffins and raced out of the door.   We had around 15 minutes to get there which is exactly how long the hostel website told us it would take on foot to get to the train station.  They must've been running/ walking as fast as we were. My feet hurt so bad in my little TOMS shoes and one of the places where my sunburn hurt the most was the front of my armpits and shoulders, conveniently right where my backpack's straps sit.  I was trying to keep up with Greg juggling our muffins, a jar of jelly, and my back pack.  I hadn't taken a shower in 3 days more or less (don't judge me!) and I hadn't touched my hair since the beach the day before. I was looking rough walking funny as fast as I could holding all these things while trying to hold my backpack straps to save my skin the burning sensation!

Going straight down Heroe de Sostoa street we hit the train station, walked through it, around a corner, and finally to the bus station. Spain time means late time. They are always 5 to 10 minutes late because that is their unsaid custom. So we weren't too worried. As soon as we went to the ticket counter we were out of breath letting our Spanish flow out exactly what we needed. They said the bus leaves in an hour. We were in disbelief! We knew that we could probably still make the one at 8am!  We kind of argued saying that we wanted a ticket for the 8 o'clock bus not for the 10 o'clock and he said that we missed it by an hour. We thought he was crazy because he kept pointing at his watch. 

It finally dawned on Greg as he asked me "what time does your watch say?"

"7:58" I answered.

This was the "spring forward" day for Spain.  The clocks were to be changed one hour ahead during our sleep. The time on my watch and Greg's phone has to be manually changed and of course we hadn't changed it yet. That morning we completely blanked even though we had talked about it the night before. After painfully rushing to the station we could have taken that hour to take a shower, eat properly and comfortably walk to the station. It was actually 9:00. As I walked to the restroom these two men laughed hysterically at my red-lobster body. I was wearing shorts and a tank top and although they think I can't understand their Spanish gossip I understood every word! I went to the bathroom and gave myself to the best of my ability a sink bath fully clothed washing my face, arms, etc... These ladies stared at my face and arms for a good bit. Finally, I just laughed and said, "ay me duele mi cuerpo y mi cara!" (Ah! my body and my face hurts!)  That broke the ice and they asked if I had sun tan lotion or aloevera. They talked to me for a little longer while I tried to make my hair look less like a hobo's.

The 10 o'clock bus left with us in it. Ronda was only an hour away and it only cost us 4 euros. Carrie Thornton had told me about this beautiful pueblo, little town, but I didn't take her full word for it until I saw it for myself. The depth underneath bridge is breathtaking. The beauty of the canyon exceeded every expectation I had. We walked across one of the famous bridges, Puente Nueve, new bridge, which apparently is the newest. We unfortunately didn't make time to see Puente Romano or Puente Viejo, but I blame it on the rain. As we explored the New Bridge and the hiking trails around it the weather was perfect! From walking from the side of the bridge, over it, and on the other side, there was never a moment when we weren't peaking over the tall ledge to get a bird's eye view of the pais, country side.

The Bridge and the left hand side of the old town

The right hand side and a little bit of where we hiked.

We started down the stone pathway, around and down until we got into the tiny dirt paths that led closer to the bridge's waterfall.  It was a blast actually getting to hike regardless of the wrong choice of shoes I had to wear. I forget how much I enjoy outdoorsy activities. It was great to climb into several caves and look at how a city was built on top of an ancient city's water system that had been dried out. The Moorish aqueduct had several tunnels where the openings were found in these caves and along the cliff's side close to the waterfall. You know you are about to get some major cardio work out when it takes a good hour to climb down the mountain side and you are about to reverse and retract going upwards. The first part of the returning hike wasn't bad because it was mainly level gradually going up on the mountain side, but when that stone path began I about died. I could tell that I had been studying abroad and heavily slacking on exercising daily. The sad part was, I was taking it easy ascending, but my lungs could have cared less as I was sucking in the fresh mountain air.

Me with the Puerte Nuevo

El Puerte Nuevo and the waterfall

This is a view from beside the bridge looking at the houses above the cliff and river.

We splurged a little and ate a great meal close to the cliff side eating ravioli, olives, bread, and fried eggplant with honey. To enjoy the rest of the day we spent an hour waiting on the rain to die down as it had started after we ate. We headed to Algeceras, a dirty port town close to La Linea which is where we wanted to go the next day in order to get to Gibraltar. Our hostel was super sketchy and not clean enough to take a shower barefoot, but it was cheap and a came, bed, to sleep in. I was thankful.

March 28th Toasted.

Málaga's beach

This is 2 days after my burn
This picture doesn't portray how much it burned! (:

in the Alcazaba

Kind of the outer wall of the Alcazaba

The day of burnt regret!

We woke up around 8:30 and got some toast with jelly, coffee, and muffins before we set out to catch some sun.

Before the sun came up we visited the Alcazaba de Málaga which is basically ruins from Muslims rulers.  The buildings dated back to the eleventh century and were made of limestone. So its incredible that they haven't fully crumbled and are still in tact. They did a great job of preserving them.  The Alcazaba was a lot bigger than it looks. You are able to continuously climb up different sets of stairs on to building that lead up the mountain to different parts of the Alcazaba. The view was incredible. Because it was one of the higher points in the city, we were able to see most of the city, the port and beaches along with the Mediterranean. Plus we got a great discount for being students, it was only 60 centimos to get in.

On our way to finding the beach, Greg and I got into the stupidest argument ever about using "derecho" (straight) or "directo" (also meaning straight) and in Mexico they don't use "derecho."  Greg refused to acknowledge it as an actual word because it is so close to "derecha," meaning right. We both blew out of proportion. He slowed his pace making my pace faster as to distance ourselves.  We lost each other crossing the street.  I spent the afternoon nuzzled in the warm sand soaking in the sun.  I dressed for no more than an hour to get a showarma for lunch.  I walked for another hour along the coast looking for Greg, but with no luck I settled down again.  After 30 minutes Greg found me and sat next to me.  We laid there for a few more hours letting the last of the sun pour over our skin.

If it was possible to grab and "catch" some of sun and rub it all over my body - I did just that with an overdose.   Thinking it was cool enough outside- I didn't even think I would get a tan much less fried-to-a-crisp beyond bacon's capability.  To add to my new sizzling tone color - I'd worn my shades all day long to make this bacon-fried body resemble a red Indian raccoon with beach-bum blonde hair.

-quite horrendous

The rest of the day was completely lax. We went back to the teteria for some tea and then to Corte Inglis for some food before we headed back to the hostel.

Friday, April 2, 2010

March 27th Málaga

The Nazarenos

The Paso, The Float

Outside the Picasso Museum 
No pictures allowed inside

MALAGUETA!!! Beautiful beach

It was nice to wake up around 9am, eat the same ole breakfast , frosted corn flakes, Spanish style, chat with my house mamá and my roomie before getting ready.  I packed up, dressed, and walked down Recaredo street to meet Greg at Rodilla, a sandwich/ coffee café with free wifi (they pronounce it wee fee).  Greg used the internet and by 10:40 we were walking to the train station.

The train took off by 11:10. I was so excited to be on a Spanish beach with the sun actually shining.  The trip wasn't long, but it did take longer than expected.  I told the hostel we would check in around 2, but we were only 20 minutes late arriving. The hostel was called Malaga Backpackers. Fitting I'd say.  It was basically owned and operated by a few Spaniards in their late twenties.  It looked like a bachelor pad with bright painted walls in blues, lime green and even purple and orange. That was the extent of the decoration. The living area had 4 or 5 couches all covered with African printed blankets.  There was a big screen tv and the dining area had a couple tables with chairs at each. The rule: clean your own dishes. It felt like we were staying at a friend's house that wasn't catering or accommodating to us.  Bit thats exactly what a hostel is.  Its a bed for cheap- eleven euros was a steal.

We threw what little luggage we brought in our room and made a v-line from the hostel to the beach.  We hit the port first.  We got the chance to see these massive authentic antique ships.  One had recently sailed from Cádiz to Málaga. Finally walking around the border we found a beautiful beach called Malagueta. We laid in the sun for two and a half hours getting a slight tan before the buildings covered the setting sun.

Walking up and down the streets in Spain during Semana Santa, holy week, is a challenge.  The Spaniards and thousands of visitors crowd the streets to see parades take place always leading with a someone holding a cross followed by nazarenos clothed in tunics with masks and hoods (they look like the KKK) pointed to a tip.  Many are holding candles or staffs depending on their The men holding the float are called costaleros. They have to have enormous strength in order to carry the main attraction, the floats that weigh up to 2000 kg's which is around 4400 pounds! The pasos, floats, are carried by 40 men and each one bears around 110 pounds for around 8 hours. They have cushions so that the wood doesn't rub directly on them, and they get to rest several times throughout the procession. The The climax of the procession is when the float passes in and out of the cathedral or respective church. The band that accompanies this parade creates the rhythm of the pace and order.  The trumpets lead the melody. It is a beautiful experience. Anyone witnessing this can't help but be moved.  I was able to see many of these parades throughout the week.

We passed on going from the beach to Picasso's museum. We talked to a man who was watching for his son who one of the men carrying the float.  He was so proud!  The museum was incredible. Pablo Picasso's home town was Málaga and I have a much greater appreciation for this artist walking through his paintings chronologically seeing the different phases he went through. Its times like this where I wish I could trade places with either Brittany Busch or Katie Nelson and let them enjoy this opportunity I was blessed to have. My favorite was Tres Palomas, but I'm not sure if it was by Picasso or not. It was beautiful and definitely inspired from Picasso's style.

Right outside the museum, a teteria, tea shop, was calling my name.  We sat down and shared a pot of hot red tea and each ordered a turkish pastry to complement our tea perfectly.  It was a perfect ending to a traveling day having accomplished so much while doing it all in a calm relaxing manner. My kind of vaca.

March 18, 19, and 20

The Castle of Segovia

The Royal Palace of Madrid

Inside the Royal Palace of Madrid
This is the dining room.

The day after we arrived in Madrid and settled into our condo-like hotel rooms with our little kitchens, we headed to Segovia with the school care-a-van. I slept the entire way there, around 2 hours. The bus took us up into the mountains to visit this charming little town. The air was icy with sprits of freezing rain.  We walked up the hill to the Spanish Bourbon Castle. It was beautiful! I snuck a few pictures. My favorite part was the history that Dr. Inglis told us about the King and Queens. How they would use the restroom and those Kings and Queens who actually loved each other rather than letting their marriage be arranged and uncomfortable. I loved hearing about the secret hallways the servants used to get around the palace. The servants would cook food and roll their cart all the way across the enormous palace so that the soup would be steaming hot when they left the kitchen and when they got to the dining room it would be ice cold. The kings never knew that soup was supposed to be hot. So interesting. 

Then, by bus, they took us into town. The Segovian aqueduct is enormous! It was mesmerizing seeing the massive stone arches. I really just hung out with a big group and walked around the aqueduct and the town for a couple hours. We were back on the bus by 6 and rarin' to get back to Madrid.

Going to bed at 2:30am is great in the moment, but SUCKS when you have to be up by 7:30am. Boo.
I went to the Prado and spent a good two and a half hours looking at famous talented masterpieces of unhappy people. Some were naked. Some were fat, short, pretty, skinny, hideous, but all wearing a serious look or frown on their face. I understand that they had to stand there forever while they painted their body, but I mean lets get some laughter radiation through oil paint once in a while! After Goya and comparing his light and dark stages of his paintings, I peaced out of there. I headed with Carrie Thornton and her sister and mom to the Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace of Madrid).   

It took us a good 45 minutes walk just because we took the long way, but that 45 minutes felt like forever with the sole of my TOMS soaking with rain sharing an paragua, umbrella, with Carrie. By the time we did find out way to this beautiful concrete palace we found out the great news; It was Spain's Fathers Day and King was in town so the Palace closed at 2. There was no way we would get through the line and see the entire Palace before we were booted out. We decided to add that to the agenda the next day.

Greg and I went to Starbucks to grab a quick breakfast and coffee and we headed out to Monet's museum. We planned out our timing perfect because 30 minutes before the museum opened up the line was already a block long and we were 7th in line. The museum was unbelievable. It has to be my favorite out of the Lourve, Prado, and Picasso's museum. The impressionist paintings had me staring mesmerized for long periods of time. I'm usually the one to respectfully look at a painting long enough to appreciate it, but never the one to stand in front of a painting paralyzed and unwilling to look away. Monet work was that moving. We went to both of his museums to see his water lilies series and garden series. What a fantastic artist.

We spent the entire afternoon enjoying the museums and then we decided to hit up the Royal Palace once again. The Palace was enormous and so captivating. I couldn't help but compare it to the Versailles Palace in France. Regardless of the luxury of decorating this massive unit someone calls home, The Royal Palace of Madrid couldn't touch the beauty of Versailles. Plus, the tour only included maybe 30 percent of the palace. This is where I had unimaginable connections where I could explore the Palace in all its odds and inns, secret passage ways, and basements.

The rest of the afternoon is all a blur. I took a nap. Had an amazing quiet time and just enjoyed hanging out with some of the other students. I went shopping and cooked for Greg and Carrie in our hotel room.